Child Arrangement Orders in the UK

Making arrangements for the child on divorce/separation is a challenging step to proceed with. Especially, when you and your potential ex-spouse are working on the agreements on how each parent will spend in looking after their child.

A photo of a family happily reunited after a successful Child Arrangement Order application in Birmingham.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Under UK law, it’s generally the responsibility of both parents to look after a child even after they get a divorce. Hence, a mother can’t legally stop the father from seeing his child/children on separation unless the following jeopardising conditions apply that might potentially affect the child’s welfare in the future:

  • Conditions that limit the child’s access to rights such as education
  • Exposure to criminal activities
  • Prone to abusive and aggressive behaviour
  • Predisposal to drug/ substance abuse

A court can bar the contact of the Father from seeing the child if the mother proves the above conditions with proven grounds.  However, on the flip side, if the mother is abusive to her children, the father has a right to acquire full custody of a child until all the matters are lawfully resolved. 

Hence, the relationship between both parents is protected with both reserving equal rights to look after the child, given the child’s agreement on divorce.

Therefore, any divorcing parent has a right to meet/ contact his/her child under normal conditions. Thus, UK law favors the conducive environment for a positive child’s upbringing even when the parents have decided to end their marriage in the future.

The following decisions form the crucial part of the Child Arrangements Order:


  • The order enforces that neither of the two separating partners can change the surname of the child unless their agreement is legally binding with parental responsibility
  • The ‘live with’ feature of the child arrangements remains legally binding until the child reaches the age of 18 unless there are exceptional cases
  • Upon enforcement order, the court has a right to sanction the person with a warning, fine, or a prison sentence
  • You can apply for the variation in the maintenance payments or other child arrangements if the family circumstances change, as long as it’s in the best interest of the child under custody

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